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The 5 step Military Method to good sleep

Ideas for good sleep

Getting good sleep is crucial for our functioning. Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and dementia. It also affects our mood, memory, and immune system. Altogether, making us more prone to infections. Additionally, sleep deprivation impairs performance, leading to accidents and poor judgment. The National Institutes for Health highlights the role of sleep deficiency in tragic accidents. Such as nuclear reactor meltdowns, ship grounding, and plane crashes.

It’s a matter of life and death

In the military, quality sleep can be a matter of life and death. That’s why the U.S. Army follows the “military method” of sleep. Which provides valuable insights for everyone to improve their sleep. The military method of sleep originated from the need to help soldiers rest in loud, stressful, and dangerous conditions. Recognising this challenge, the U.S. Army developed a technique to aid sleep. This method, known as the “military method,” was documented by Olympic coach, Lloyd Bud Winter in his 1981 book, Relax and Win: Championship Performance.

The Little-known Relaxation Technique

Winter interviewed members of the U.S. Army Air Corps after World War II. And he discovered a little-known relaxation technique used by pilots. It was reported that pilots in the Pre-Flight School who practiced the military method could fall asleep within 10 minutes. Within six weeks, approximately 96% of pilots utilising this technique were able to achieve sleep within that timeframe, even with gunfire in the background.

So, what are the steps of this technique? Below, we outline the five steps of the military method. These are designed to be simple and efficient for anyone to implement starting tonight.

Relax your face: Concentrate on your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and jaw, consciously releasing any tension held in those areas.
Drop your shoulders: Allow your arms to relax and shoulders to loosen. Visualise a gentle, warm wind pushing your arms downward.
Take a deep breath: Inhale slowly and exhale, focusing on the relaxation of your stomach. Avoid holding your stomach in; let it fully relax.
Relax your legs: Imagine the return of the warm wind, gently guiding your legs down. Let them sink into the softness of the bed or floor, feeling heavy.
Clear your mind: Employ different techniques to achieve this. Visualise calming images like a flowing river or clouds. Or repeat the phrase “don’t think” for about 10 seconds. If distractions arise, calmly redirect your focus to one of these techniques.

The Research says it all!

What does scientific research say about the military method? It appears that Winter and the U.S. Army may be onto something. Stages 1, 2, and 5 align with “progressive muscle relaxation,” which has been shown to induce a calm and peaceful state. Additionally, the breathing techniques in stage 3 and the guided imagery in stage 5 have been found to enhance relaxation and overall well-being.

However, there’s an additional hidden benefit in the military method: its routine nature. Research indicates that maintaining a consistent routine is one of the most effective ways to improve sleep habits. Establishing a routine, whether it involves reading before bed, taking a shower, or engaging in light exercise, is key. So, while trying the military method, don’t expect instant results. It may take two to six weeks to become proficient and develop a routine. Stick with it, and you may wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested.

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